In prayer I braid my hair with eagle-down, twist the ends with beads and doeskin ties, and paint each cheek with one white stripe: tears of dedication, of not forgetting. I tie on my choker, beaded apron, and quilled arm and leg bands. Then my father's bustle, anklets and ankle bells. Lastly I slip on cuffs, medicine necklace, feathered head dress, and moccasins. I am dressed in Arapahoe, Blackfeet, Crow, and Sioux.
I pick up my fan as the dancing begins. Toe'-heel toe'-heel for one dance, toe-heel' toe-heel' for another; our trochee and iambic before we knew such words. The dancing carries me on waves of energy welling up from deep within my body. As the drummers sing, we spin together around a fire that hurls sparks up into the stars. The night passes in a sweating, heart pounding canto of words, rhythms, and a sacred love few can ever know.
old river –
its sandy margins bare
of foot prints